Saturday, March 29, 2014

Book Review: The Book of Revelation Adapted by Matt Dorff

The Book of Revelation translated by Fr. Mark Arey and Fr. Philemon Sevastiades, adapted by Matt Dorff, illustrated by Chris Koelle

I'm fasting from fiction for Lent, so the graphic novels won't be back till after Easter, but this is graphic non-fiction...

One of the most difficult books to understand in the Bible is the very last one, the Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse. The disciple John on the island of Patmos has a vision of a time of great tribulation ending in a new Heaven and a new Earth. The imagery is rich and cryptic, full of numeric and pop culture references that are alien to readers two millennia later. The book makes fascinating but not necessarily satisfying reading.

This new translation of the book comes from two Greek Orthodox clergy who provide a precise, timeless English text. The drawings are very evocative. The visual tone is like a horror comic, with lots of black, grey, gold, and red dominating most of the pages. The illustrations are just that, illustrations of the text and not interpretations. When warriors are depicted, they look like Roman soldiers as befits a text written in the first century AD. The one bit the illustrator has taken from contemporary art is the use of reaction shots from cinema and television. As John is shown fantastical things, occasionally his reaction can be seen in a frame--sometimes wonder, sometimes horror. It works well in the text.

I found this graphic version of Revelation hard to put down. The images are well paired with the text, neither overwhelming the other. The book gives the reader a more visceral experience of the text, which may be a better way to understand it rather than trying to intellectually decode it.

SAMPLE IMAGE: Sadly for you readers, I've chosen the bit that made me say, "Hey, zombies!" Other illustrations are better representations but I've got to be me.

Click to enlarge

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